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MINERS WARN LUNGU … you will pay heavily if Mopani sends us on the streets

 

IT IS dununa reverse for us going back in the streets while ministers have contracts with Mopani Copper Mines, miners on forced leave have complained.

 

Mopani Copper Mines public relations officer Nerbert Mulenga on Tuesday evening stated that more than 4,700 miners are likely to lose their jobs due to the unresolved electricity tariff hike dispute between the mine and the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC).

 

But Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says the threat of job cuts by Mopani is a perfect example of corporate impunity bred from protectionist policies.

And the Mineworkers Union of Zambia has strongly opposed Mopani Copper Mines’ intention to lay-off close to 5, 000 mineworkers.

 

The mining company has since given notice to retrench over 4,000 miners following the power tariff hike dispute.

 

But the miners have warned that President Lungu would pay heavily if they lose jobs.

 

So now dununa reverse is working! We are going back to the streets. This is the worst government. How I wish we had listened when Mr Edgar Lungu said he had no vision for Zambia. This is a clear manifestation that he has no vision for the country and the Zambian people,

said Nelson Kalumba, a miner on forced leave who was in the company of other miners.

 

He said the PF government officials did not care about them because they were not suffering.

 

 

 

They do not care because they have contracts with Mopani and they are enjoying. This is how selfish these government ministers are. Now this Minister of Energy, [David] Mabumba just says Mopani and CEC should sort out their issues and ends there! What kind of a minister is this? Today, if we are sent home for good, that is the end of Lungu,

said Kalumba, warning that the government should be prepared for any action that the miners would take.

 

Remember last year when the mines retrenched, only a few were called back. So now it is time to retrench those that had remained and this government and the so-called President is watching! It is you Mr Lungu who will pay heavily.

 

 

Mopani public relations manager Nebert Mulenga stated on Tuesday evening that it had become necessary for the mines to curtail some areas of its operations due to the restriction of power by CEC.

 

 

 

“Mopani is unable to conduct its operations safely. As we’re optimising the use of the limited power that it is receiving, we have to close several areas and that the scaled back operations may affect a total of 4,700 direct employees,” explained Mulenga in a statement.

 

We are operating under a Power Supply Agreement dated the 31st March 2000, that was most recently amended on the 6th March 2015, and is valid until 2040. The PSA strictly sets out the agreed tariff and increases during the contract period. The contract provides that a tariff may be increased on agreement by both parties. This was the case in 2008 when Mopani agreed to a tariff increase of 33% over and above the contractual tariff. The current proposed revision would result in a further increase of 54 per cent. Within the provisions of the agreement there are clear steps to be taken in the event of an impasse on tariffs. These dispute resolution steps have unfortunately not been followed by CEC, which instead chose to resolve the impasse by a unilateral restriction of power supply.

 

But in a statement, Sinkamba stated that protectionism in the mining sector, entrenched through Development Agreements (DAs), had a negative effect on economic growth and welfare.

 

 

“As the Green Party, we are extremely nauseated by Mopani Copper Mines (MCM)’s threat to retrench 4,000 miners if Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) sticks to cost-reflective tariffs. We find this threat, when the electorates are paying even at higher rates, a perfect example of corporate impunity bred from protectionist policies. The threat is actually an insult to the Zambian government and its people,” stated Sinkamba.

 

 

And addressing journalists in Lusaka yesterday, MUZ president Nkole Chishimba called for speedy dialogue between MCM and CEC on the power supply agreement (PSA) negotiations between the two parties.

 

MUZ vehemently rejects these intentions to cut 4, 700 jobs as reported in the press statement [from MCM]. MUZ also calls on government to intervene in the matter so that MCM does not resort to job cuts. The move appears intended to intimidate and blackmail the affected stakeholders and unfortunately, workers seem to be easy fix and victims of Mopani and CEC’s failure to negotiate the power supply agreement in good faith,

Chishimba noted.

 

“It is the duty of the union to make sure that we protect jobs at Mopani and any other company which intends to shed off labour.”

 

 

He warned the nation on the consequences of the impact of the impasse between MCM and CEC on the Copperbelt Province, particularly in Kitwe and Mufulira.

 

 

Our memories are still fresh on the redundancies that were done in 2015 involving 4, 300 mine workers and therefore, the nation cannot afford to lose a further 4, 700 mine workers as this will push them into abject poverty and squalor,

Chishimba said.

 

“We call on government to stop MCM on these threats of job cuts and guarantee the employment of the mine workers at Mopani. MCM could save tremendously if they cut jobs of expatriates rather than touching the local workforce, thereby reversing the spirit of job creation for the locals in the mines.”

 

 

And Chishimba, who is also president of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), pointed out that the government directed MCM and CEC to negotiate the power increment which was a commercial transaction and the union quickly cautioned that such should not translate into cutting jobs.

 

 

“MUZ is pleased that other mining companies have taken on board the power increment by mitigating this cost using other options than cutting jobs. Our fears are precipitated by the fact that the number of workers to be affected by the lay-off if Mopani went ahead with its plan will be higher due to the large number of contractors who are carrying out jobs with Mopani. We therefore maintain that the two parties should quickly resolve the impasse that is between them amicably so that the wheels of mining can start turning again,” said Chishimba.

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